ROHINGYAS AS JIHADISTS?

September 10, 2017 – 4:13 am

TO DONATE TO BigO, USE SKRILL

As of now, we have stopped all restarts of older shows to reduce the cost of running the site. Readers who can donate towards the cost of the site, please open a Skrill account.


If you can afford to donate, please open a Skrill account. We don’t use much but we can’t run on empty.

Readers who wish to contribute to BigO will now have to use Skrill (click here). We are no longer able to use PayPal to receive donations. Register an account at Skrill. To make a payment, use this e-mail address as recipient’s e-mail address in Skrill. Looking forward to hearing from you.

+ + + + +

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW
To reduce spamming, the BigO website is going through Cloudflare. What it does is scan your browser to ensure the visitor is not a spam. Do not be alarmed as this usually takes only a few seconds. Email us if you still have difficulty accessing the BigO site; or playing or downloading the tracks. If you know a better way of reducing spam, do let us know.

+ + + + +


Who’s stirring up yet another Jihadist plot in Asia? This time the people targeted are the Rohingyas who live along the shared border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, who happen to be Muslims. There are enough reports that address the issue as one of poverty and marginalisation. The Rohingyas are stateless having had their citizenship removed unilaterally in 1982. Without a political voice, they are literally helpless. The new violence suggests they want a Muslim breakaway state. Who would benefit from a splintered Myanmar? By Chandra Muzaffar.

The Rohingyas - or at least some Rohingyas - are now being projected as terrorists, as “Jihadists” out to kill Myanmar soldiers and civilians. Myanmar leaders including Aung San Suu Kyi have spoken along these lines.

This view of the Rohingyas is being propagated by the Myanmar government with greater zeal since a small armed group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) attacked security forces on October 9, 2016. These attacks have continued in recent weeks. In this new wave of violence it is alleged that 12 security personnel were killed while the Myanmar military and border police have killed 77 Rohingya Muslims.

The way Aung San Suu Kyi and her government colleagues have framed the clashes ignores the brutal massacres committed by the military over a long period of time. The oppression and persecution of the Rohingyas by the State and other forces has been thoroughly documented by the United Nations Human Rights Council and other independent human rights groups.

It is well-known that as a community the Rohingyas were stripped of Myanmar citizenship in 1982, deprived of basic human rights, tortured, imprisoned, and forced to flee their home province of Rakhine. This is why there are tens of thousands of Rohingyas living in squalid conditions in Bangladesh or struggling to survive in a number of countries from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia. They have been described by the UN itself as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. Simply put, the Rohingyas are the victims of a slow genocide, to quote Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen.

To condemn the violence of a miniscule fraction of the Rohingyas without taking into account their massive marginalisation and severe oppression is a travesty of truth and justice. It is extreme desperation and hopelessness that has forced some of them to resort to violence. Of course, violence is not the solution. It will not help to restore the rights of the Rohingyas, especially their right to citizenship.

Our concern is that the violence will escalate. The signs are already there. Given the underlying religious connotations of the conflict - though the conflict itself is not rooted in religion per se - it is not inconceivable that the violence will spread beyond Myanmar’s borders and engulf Muslim and Buddhist communities in other parts of South-east Asia. This would be catastrophic for ASEAN, a regional grouping in which 42 per cent of the population is Muslim and another 40 per cent is Buddhist.

The oppression and persecution of the Rohingyas by the State and other forces has been thoroughly documented by the United Nations Human Rights Council and other independent human rights groups. It is well-known that as a community the Rohingyas were stripped of Myanmar citizenship in 1982, deprived of basic human rights, tortured, imprisoned, and forced to flee their home province of Rakhine.

Finding workable solutions to the Myanmar-Rohingya conflict is therefore of utmost importance. It is in this regard that the ‘Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State’ under the chairmanship of former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, deserves the urgent attention of all stakeholders. The Report announced in August 2017 calls for a review of the 1982 citizenship law and notes that “Myanmar harbours the largest community of stateless people in the world.” It urges the government to abolish distinctions between different types of citizens.

Other recommendations pertain to reduction of the poverty rate in Rakhine state which is 78 per cent, improving the socio-economic condition of the people, enhancing access to health services and education, ensuring freedom of movement and encouraging people’s participation and representation.

Though the Report is worded with a great deal of caution and diplomacy, it does send an unambiguous message to the powers-that-be in Myanmar that the status quo cannot be allowed to persist and that change has to take place. That message is significant considering that the Commission was actually initiated by the government.

Will the government take heed? So far there is no indication that it will respond positively to the Commission’s recommendations. This is not surprising. It is the harsh authoritarianism of the government embodied in the power of the military that is primarily responsible for the targeting of the Rohingya as the “ethnic other.” This is what has resulted in the genocide that we are witnessing today.

Even if the Myanmar government does not act of its own volition, the Kofi Annan Report can be used to persuade other governments to pressure Myanmar to act. Apart from ASEAN governments, special efforts should be made by civil society groups and the media to convince Beijing, Tokyo, New Delhi, Islamabad and Washington and London that they demand that the Myanmar government protects all its citizens without discrimination. If it fails to do so, these capitals should review their economic and/or military ties with Naypyidaw (the capital city of Myanmar).

It is with the aim of persuading the leadership in Naypyidaw to change its behaviour that the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) is holding its concluding session in Kuala Lumpur on the treatment of the Rohingyas, Kachins and other minorities in Myanmar from the 18th to the 22nd of September 2017. As more and more voices plead for justice and compassion on behalf of the oppressed who knows they may eventually pierce the walls of Naypyidaw.

Note: Dr Chandra Muzaffar, a Malaysian, is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST). He was the first Director of the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue at the University of Malaya, in Kuala Lumpur. He then became the Noordin Sopiee Professor of Global Studies at the University of Science (USM) in Penang. From 1977 to 1991, he founded Aliran Kesedaran Negara (Aliran); a multi-ethnic reform group in Malaysia for justice, freedom and solidarity. The above article was posted at CounterPunch.

+ + + + +

BACKGROUND
Here’s a brief history of the ethnic conflict in Myanmar.

The Rohingya Of Myanmar - Pawns In An Anglo-Chinese Proxy War

By Moon Of Alabama

Media attention is directed to some minor ethnic violence in Myanmar, the former Burma. The story in the “western” press is of Muslim Rohingya unfairly vilified, chased out and killed by  Buddhist mobs and the army in the state of Rakhine near the border to Bangladesh. The “liberal human interventionists” like Human Rights Watch are united with Islamists like Turkey’s President Erdogan in loudly lamenting the plight of the Rohingya.

That curious alliance also occurred during the wars on Libya and Syria. It is by now a warning sign. Could there be more behind this than some local conflict in Myanmar? Is someone stocking a fire?

Indeed.

While the ethnic conflict in Rakhine state is very old, it has over the last years morphed into a Jihadist guerrilla war financed and led from Saudi Arabia. The area is of geo-strategic interest:

Rakhine plays an important part in [the Chinese One Belt One Road Initiative] OBOR, as it is an exit to the Indian Ocean and the location of planned billion-dollar Chinese projects - a planned economic zone on Ramree Island, and the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port, which has oil and natural gas pipelines linked with Yunnan Province’s Kunming.
Pipelines from the western coast of Myanmar eastwards to China allow hydrocarbon imports from the Persian Gulf to China while avoiding the bottleneck of the Straits of Malacca and disputed parts of the South China Sea.

The Myanmar army has ruled the country for decades. Under economic pressure it nominally opened up to the “west” and instituted “democracy”. The darling of the “west” in Myanmar is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party won the elections and she has a dominant role in the government. But Aung San Suu Kyi is foremost a nationalist and the real power is still held by the generals.

It is in “Western interest” to hinder China’s projects in Myanmar. Inciting Jihad in Rakhine could help to achieve that. There is historic precedence for such a proxy war in Burma. During World War II British imperial forces incited the Rohingya Muslim in Rakhine to fight Burmese nationalist Buddhists allied with Japanese imperialists.

The Rohingya immigrated to the northern parts of Arakan, today’s Rakhine state of Myanmar, since the 16th century. A large wave came under British imperial occupation some hundred years ago. Illegal immigration from Bangladesh continued over the last decades. In total about 1.1 million Muslim Rohingya live in Myanmar. The birthrate of the Rohingya is said to be higher than that of the local Arakanese Buddhists. These people feel under pressure in their own land.

While these populations are mixed in some towns there are many hamlets that belong 100 per cent to either one. There is generally little integration of Rohingya within Myanmar. Most are officially not accepted as citizens. Over the centuries and the last decades there have been several violent episodes between the immigrants and the local people. The last Muslim-Buddhist conflict raged in 2012.

Since then a clearly Islamist insurgency was build up in the area. It acts under the name Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and is led by Ataullah abu Ammar Junjuni, a Jihadist from Pakistan. (ARSA earlier operated under the name Harakah al-Yakin, or Faith Movement.) Ataullah was born into the large Rohingya community of Karachi, Pakistan. He grew up and was educated in Saudi Arabia. He received military training in Pakistan and worked as a Wahhabi Imam in Saudi Arabia before he came to Myanmar. He has since brainwashed, hired and trained a local guerrilla army of some 1,000 Takfiris.

According to a 2015 report in the Pakistani newspaper Dawn there are more than 500,000 Rohingya in Karachi. They came from Bangladesh during the 1970s and 1980s on the behest on General Ziaul Haq’s military regime and the CIA to fight the Soviets and the government of Afghanistan:

Rohingya community [in Karachi] is more inclined towards religion and they send their children to madressahs. It is a major reason that many religious parties, especially the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, the JI and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, have their organisational set-up in Burmese neighborhoods…

“A number of Rohingya members living in Arakan Abad have lost their relatives in recent attacks by Buddhist mobs in June 2012 in Myanmar,” said Mohammad Fazil, a local JI activist.

Rohingyas in Karachi regularly collect donations, Zakat and hides of sacrificial animals and send these to Myanmar and Bangladesh to support the displaced families.

Reuters noted in late 2016 that the Jihadist group is trained, led and financed through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia:

A group of Rohingya Muslims that attacked Myanmar border guards in October is headed by people with links to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said on Thursday, citing members of the group…

“Though not confirmed, there are indications [Ataullah] went to Pakistan and possibly elsewhere, and that he received practical training in modern guerrilla warfare,” the group said. It noted that Ata Ullah was one of 20 Rohingya from Saudi Arabia leading the group’s operations in Rakhine State.

Separately, a committee of 20 senior Rohingya emigres oversees the group, which has headquarters in Mecca, the ICG said.

The ARSA Jihadists claim to only attack government forces but civilian Arakanese Buddhists have also been ambushed and massacred. Buddhist hamlets were also burnt.

The Saudis and Pakistani send guerrilla commanders and money to incite the Rohingya to Jihad in Myanmar.  This is a historic repeat of the CIA operation against Soviet influence in Afghanistan. But unlike in Afghanistan, the people of Myanmar are not Muslim they will surely fight against, not join, any Jihad in their country. The Rohingya are now pawns in the great game and will suffer from it.

The government of Myanmar alleges that Ataullah and his group want to declare an independent Islamic State. In October 2016 his group started to attack police and other government forces in the area. On August 25 this year his group attacked 30 police stations and military outposts and killed some 12 policemen. The army and police responded, as is usual in this conflict, by burning down Rohingya townships suspected of hiding guerrilla forces.

To escape the growing violence many local Arakanese Buddhist flee their towns towards the capital of Rankine. Local Rohingya Muslims flee across the border to Bangladesh. Only the later refugees seem to get international attention.

The Myanmar army has ruled the country for decades. Under economic pressure it nominally opened up to the “west” and instituted “democracy”. The darling of the “west” in Myanmar is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Her party won the elections and she has a dominant role in the government. But Aung San Suu Kyi is foremost a nationalist and the real power is still held by the generals.

While Aung San Suu Kyi was propped up as democratic icon she has little personal merit except being the daughter of Thakin Aung San, a famous leader of the Burma Independence Army (BIA) and the “father of the nation”. In the 1940s Thakin Aung San was recruited by the Imperial Japanese Army to wage a guerrilla war against the colonial British army and the British supply line to anti-Japanese forces in China:

The young Aung San learned to wear Japanese traditional clothing, speak the language, and even took a Japanese name. In historian Thant Myint-U’s “The River of Lost Footsteps,” he describes him as “apparently getting swept away in all the fascist euphoria surrounding him,” but notes that his commitment remained to independence for Myanmar.

The ethnic strife in Rakhine also played a role in the British-Japanese conflict over Burma:

In April 1942, Japanese troops advanced into Rakhine State and reached Maungdaw Township, near the border with what was then British India, and is now Bangladesh. As the British retreated to India, Rakhine became a front line.

Local Arakanese Buddhists collaborated with the BIA and Japanese forces but the British recruited area Muslims to counter the Japanese.

“Both armies, British and Japanese, exploited the frictions and animosity in the local population to further their own military aims,” wrote scholar Moshe Yegar…

When the British won against the Japanese Thakin Aung San changed sides and negotiated the end of British imperial rule over Burma. He was assassinated in 1947 with the help of British officers. Since then Burma, later renamed to Myanmar, was ruled by ever competing factions of the military.

Thakin Aung San’s daughter Aung San Suu Kyi received a British education and was build up for a role in Myanmar. In the 1980s and ’90s she quarreled with the military government. She was given a Nobel Peace Prize and was promoted as progressive defender of human rights by the “western” literati.

But she, and the National League for Democracy (NLD), she leads, were always the opposite - ultra-right fascists in Buddhist Saffron robes. The hypocrites are now disappointed that she does not speak out in favor of the Rohingya. But doing so would put her on the opposite side her father had famously fought for. It would also put her in opposition to most of the people in Myanmar who have little sympathy for the Rohingya and their Jihadi fight.

Moreover - the Chinese OBOR projects are a huge boon for Myanmar and will help with its economic development. The Saudis and Pakistani send guerrilla commanders and money to incite the Rohingya to Jihad in Myanmar.  This is a historic repeat of the CIA operation against Soviet influence in Afghanistan. But unlike in Afghanistan, the people of Myanmar are not Muslim they will surely fight against, not join, any Jihad in their country. The Rohingya are now pawns in the great game and will suffer from it.

Note: This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama, September 4, 2017 (click here). Moon Of Alabama was opened as an independent, open forum for discussing economics and philosophy. They are also whiskey drinkers.

+ + + + +

Post a Comment